The importance of Firework Safety
The Fourth of July is coming up soon and many of us are looking forward to the parades, family celebrations, BBQ’s with friends – and of course the fireworks celebrations for Independence Day. Although fireworks are beautiful and fun to use and watch they can also be extremely dangerous if misused or mishandled. In fact, there are around ten thousand fireworks-related injuries annually, and out of those one in six tends to be an eye-related injury, many of which leaving some permanently blind. Fireworks are fun, but it's important to remember they are explosives and proper eye safety is important when using them. In recent years we’ve found that children and young adults between 15 and 20 account for more than 50% of the injuries related to firework misuse. And while this may alarm many even sparklers can be dangerous and are responsible for over a thousand of last year's injuries alone in the US. Sparklers have even caused lethal injuries in 2017. BUT DON’T FRET – following some easy safety tips, taking proper precautions, and eliminating any waste in a safe manner can help protect you and your family this holiday and over many other holidays to come. Some of the easiest ways to protect yourself are to respect safety barriers and follow safety instructions on fireworks themselves. This means keeping yourself and the little ones nearby at least 500 feet away from fireworks as they are preparing to launch. When fireworks do not launch or misfire, making sure to let them sit for at least fifteen to twenty minutes before dousing and disposing of in a metal container. At the end of the night, it’s best to throw all fireworks away in a metal container outside incase any were to combust unknowingly – preventing a fire inside the house. The easiest way to prevent any injury or safety issues may seem silly – but it’s important NOT to use fireworks INSIDE the house. Making sure fireworks are properly set up outside and steaked or secured in the ground before launch can prevent many injuries. Making sure local laws are also followed and homemade fireworks are not used around anyone are also great ways to protect yourself and those around you. To learn more about basic general firework safety please watch this video by the American Pyrotechnic Association: Meet Professor Sparks:
In the event that you are lighting fireworks, it’s best to make sure you’re wearing eye protection. It’s also important that you do not throw or aim fireworks lit or not at others as they are controlled explosives. Having first aid supplies ready, is always a good rule of thumb, just in case you or anyone around you is hit by debris, ends up in a smoke draft, or is hit directly with a firework or firework shrapnel. In the event that any of these situations occurs, the issue should be dealt with quickly and properly. If someone experiences burns, cuts, dizziness, or any unpleasant response from fireworks or firework mishaps it’s important to get them to a safe place and either directly deal with the emergency or call the proper emergency medical services as quickly as possible. For anyone not wearing glasses in the group it may be especially important to make them aware of proper eye safety in the event that any freak accidents were to occur during a firework launch demonstration.
IMPORTANT TIPS TO BE AWARE OF REGUARDING EYE SAFETY:
ALWAYS wear protective eyewear when launching and watching fireworks as in a matter of seconds or sometimes even less than that in the instance of multiple release fireworks like roman candles – fireworks can heavily damage your eyes and other parts of your body leaving permanent chemical damage, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree burns, and in some cases blindness or even death.
In the event that you do face any kind of eye exposure to fireworks or firework particulates its important to get to an emergency medical service provider as quickly as possible. Seeking medical attention may be the only way to protect yourself from further damage and prevent excessive damage from occurring. It’s important to remember that fireworks are often full of corrosive chemicals and if any of them were to come into contact with your eyes that you take proper precautions:
DO NOTrub your eyes
DO NOT rinse your eyes out
DO NOT apply pressure
DO NOT remove any objects you think may be stuck in your eye(s)
DO NOT apply ant ointments or pain medications
DO NOT consume any blood-thinning pain relievers like Aspirin or Ibuprofen unless directly instructed to by a physician.
The reasoning for this is much like any other time something gets in your eye, applying any pressure or movement could worsen the situation. This could range from something as minute as scratching the sclera or something is dangerous as chemical and thermal burns, corneal abrasions, retinal detachment, or rupturing of systems in the eye.
It’s fun to use fireworks, and relatively safe if proper precautions are taken to make sure safety is prioritized during the enjoyment of festivities.
Remember to have fun (while staying safe) this 4th of July and all other holidays involving fireworks.
We’d like to thank the AAP and AAO for their wonderful information on firework safety and eye safety respectively.